This post has been sponsored The Coca-Cola Company. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Satisfy a fried chicken craving by making Sweet Tea Oven Fried Chicken! This twist on a Southern fried classic uses a Gold Peak® Sweet Tea brine to infuse flavor and lock in juiciness before the chicken breasts go into a spicy buttermilk bath. Coat in panko breadcrumbs before baking for the crunchiest, juiciest “fried” chicken you’ve ever tasted! Perfect for an end-of-summer party, this slightly spicy Sweet Tea Oven Fried Chicken is SO tasty!
The dog days of summer are creeping up on us, and around this time of year I’m always reminded of picnics of my childhood, spending time at the park, playing outdoors, and eating fried chicken.
For whatever reason, the summertime brings about that fried chicken craving that is hard to shake.
I know, I know.
Sometimes, I’m so Southern it hurts.
But this year, I learned something new. You don’t need to deep fry a bird to satisfy this kind of craving.
And that, my friends, is a MASSIVE win for all of us!
As a home cook who isn’t a fan of frying – the mess! the smell! the potential to accidentally light my house on fire! – I have played around with a few “oven fried” recipes in past years.
This recipe is exactly like those: A spin on a summertime comfort food classic.
Not to toot my own horn, but I think it’s my best rendition yet. And I think y’all are going to love it too, assuming you adore fried chicken like I do.
This recipe starts with a SWEET TEA BRINE.
Oh yes, friends. That’s a thing. And you are definitely going to want to give this a go because I’ve never eaten juicier chicken.
While the final product doesn’t taste like sweet tea, the sweet tea infuses just the right amount of sweetness and a lot of flavor into the bird as it brines.
Let’s talk about brining, ‘cause that’s something different for these parts.
Brining is soaking meat in a salty liquid mixture for a period of time before cooking.
The upside? This process adds tons of flavor, locks in a meat’s juices, AND tenderizes.
The downside? It takes planning and preparation because the process can take up to a day.
More good news? This Sweet Tea Oven Fried Chicken is a PERFECT recipe to make for an end-of-summer get together. It can feed a crowd; the recipe can be easily doubled (or tripled!) to feed more guests; and while there is some hands-on time, it doesn’t take that much longer to make a bigger batch.
Instead of making a classic brine using water, I replaced the liquid with Gold Peak® Sweet Tea. This sweet tea has a home brewed taste and goes down easy in the summertime. As an added bonus, it’s made with real cane sugar. You know, the way your (figurative or actual) Southern mama does.
And this little swap of water to sweet tea—a favorite Southern classic—made all the difference.
Honestly, I’m going to be brining EVERYTHING from here out if I’ve got the time. And I’m going to be using Gold Peak Sweet Tea to do it!
In preparation for this recipe, I headed down to my local Walmart and picked up a few 64 oz. jugs of Gold Peak Sweet Tea from the drink aisle. While there, I also grabbed some skin-on bone-in chicken breasts, buttermilk, and panko breadcrumbs.
Then I headed home to get started on satisfying this fried chicken craving I can’t seem to shake.
First, I made the brine, which consists of Gold Peak Sweet Tea, salt, lemon, and garlic too. Swirl ‘em together in a giant plastic bag until combined. Then dunk in the chicken, seal up the bag, and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Yes. Twenty-four hours.
Just trust me when I say it’s worth the wait. And it’s worth making this for a crowd because OH MY GOODNESS, y’all, it’s SO GOOD.
The day of, you’ll remove the chicken from the brine, pat it dry, then coat in flour, dunk it in a buttermilk bath, and finish each chicken breast with panko breadcrumbs.
Then you BAKE IT.
By the time it’s done in the oven, it’s crunchy on the outside and so tender and juicy on the inside. It’s got a bit of spice from the buttermilk mixture and a bit of sweet from the sweet tea brine… and it’s the kind of chicken this Southern girl always wants.
Let’s gather our friends and families to enjoy some Oven Fried Chicken before the summer is over, mmmkay?
I know I’m gonna be doing just that, and I suggest you do the same.
Scroll on down to learn how to make this goodness at home…
Sweet Tea Oven Fried Chicken
Satisfy a fried chicken craving by making Sweet Tea Oven Fried Chicken! This twist on a Southern fried classic uses a Gold Peak Sweet Tea brine to infuse flavor and lock in juiciness before the chicken breasts go into a spicy buttermilk bath. Coat in panko breadcrumbs before baking for the crunchiest, juiciest "fried" chicken you've ever tasted! Perfect for an end-of-summer party, this slightly spicy Sweet Tea Oven Fried Chicken is SO tasty!
Sweet Tea Brine + Chicken
- 4 cup Gold Peak Sweet Tea , at room temperature
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 4 garlic cloves , crushed
- 1 lemon , halved and juiced
- 4 lbs. skin-on bone-in chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 3 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Make + Brine the Chicken
In an extra large sealable plastic bag, combine the sweet tea, salt, garlic, lemon juice, and lemon halves. Stir until combined.
Gently place the chicken breasts into the brining mixture.
Seal up the plastic bag, place in a large baking sheet (or baking dish), and transfer to the refrigerator.
Brine for 24 hours.
Prepare + Bake the Chicken
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Place a cooling rack on top of a large baking sheet. Spray with nonstick baking spray, then set aside. (The chicken will be ON TOP of the cooling rack.)
In a large glass bowl, measure out the all-purpose flour. Set aside.
In another large glass bowl, measure out the panko breadcrumbs. Set aside.
In a wide glass bowl with tall sides, measure the buttermilk. Season with the smoked paprika, kosher salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, then stir to combine using a fork. Set aside.
Remove the brined chicken from the refrigerator and remove the chicken breasts from the brine. (At this point, you can discard the brine!)
Pat the chicken dry using a paper towel.
Place the chicken in the flour bowl and toss to coat.
Once the chicken has been coated, use tongs to transfer it to the buttermilk mixture.
Coat the chicken in the buttermilk mixture, then transfer to the panko breadcrumbs using another set of tongs.
When the chicken is covered in panko, transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
Repeat and coat all the chicken in the breading mixture.
Pro tip: Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the biggest piece of chicken. This will make it so you can check the internal temperature of the bird that is going to cook the longest.
Once the chicken is all prepared, place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes at 425°F.
Lower the oven’s heat to 375°F, and bake for an addition 35-45 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the largest chicken breast reads 165°F.
Once the chicken is cooked through, remove from the oven, and cover with aluminum foil.
Let the chicken sit for 20 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature with your favorite Southern summertime sides and sweet tea!
Please do not cut the brining time short. This makes the chicken so flavorful and juicy!
Please note that the total time includes 24 hours of brining time. This is not active time.
This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled, though you will need more than one bag for the brining liquid. So if you want to double the recipe? Make another batch of brine in another bag and add another 4 lbs. of meat.
If you love dark meat, add in some chicken thighs and drumsticks, too! If you do this, keep in mind that those will be cooked through at a different time as the chicken breasts, depending on the size of each piece of meat. To ensure everything is cooked through, use an oven safe meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of each cut of meat.